Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Burnet County, Texas

    During 1859, Robert Adams lived alone in the northwestern part of Burnet County about eighteen miles from Burnet. He was an ex-soldier and had previously seen service at old Fort Croghan.

    About noon July 7, 1859, M.J. Bolt and Valentine Fry started to the Colorado River to eat their lunch. They had only gone a short distance when four Indians crossed the river the second time and came upon Robert Adam,who had been over on Deer Creek, hunting a hog. The red men ran Mr. Adams for a considerable distance and finally overtook him near a cliff, where he was killed. His body was badly mutilated and filled with arrows and this cliff has since been known as Adam's Cliff.

    After the killing of Mr. Adams, which occurred about three or four o' clock in the evening, the Indians crossed the Colorado into Llano County and passed the old salt works, which were not a great distance from the present town of Bluffton. Luther Cowan saw the Indians and he reported their presence. So in a short time, E.C. Cowan, Luther H. Cowan, Gid Cowan and about one other followed the Indians approximately four miles and came upon them within one hundred yards of the first school building ever erected in Llano County. The Indians almost invariably learned to lean and shoot from the same side of a horse. So the citizens charged the Indians from this side. When the savages started to shoot, an Indian leaned over so far on his steed, he fell to the ground. This scared the horse of E.G. Cowan, causing this early Texan to also fall to the ground So Gid P. Cowan came to E.C. Cowan's rescue. Gid Cowan then dismounted and ran up to shoot the savage on the ground, but Gid's pistol refused to fire. He then took his knife and charged the Indian open-handed. But each time he attempted to strike the warrior, the latter attempted to get an arrow to shoot. Shortly afterwards, Luther Cowan came forward and shot the Indian in his back. When the warrior fell, the other Indians ran away. At least one of the remaining Indians was wounded. Gid Cowan was also badly injured under the left arm, but soon recovered.

    Note: The author personally interviewed Martin Bolt, Ike Maxwell, Mr. and Mrs. James Narrett and corresponded with D.H. Holland, who were living near Mr. Adams at the time this massacre occurred.

    Further Ref.: The Partisan Rangers, by Gen. Adam R. Johnson and Wilbarger's, Indian Depredations in Texas.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

Robert Adams story by Wilbarger

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments